Add a UNU Press book to your holiday reading list

  • 2011•12•20

    Heather Chai

    Stuff your stocking with a UNU book!

    Cover detail from Climate Change and Global Sustainability

    With the New Year holidays fast approaching, why not add a United Nations University Press book to your holiday reading list? In this article, we review the UNU Press best sellers of 2011.


    From the challenges posed by climate change and realizing contemporary civil society, to discussions on diasporas and disputes on human rights, throughout 2011 UNU Press brought scholarly research and timely debate to readers around the globe. Here is your chance to catch up on the year’s best sellers from UNU Press.

    #1: Exposing the ugly underbelly of globalization

    Topping the UNU Press best-seller list for 2011, The Dark Side of Globalization sheds light on the hidden and undesirable aspects of globalization. It asks: “What can the international system do to curb the negative forces unleashed by globalization, such as transnational people trafficking, arms trade and insurgencies?” The Dark Side of Globalization was reviewed widely around the globe, following its launch in Tokyo in early 2011, when Ramesh Thakur, former UNU Vice-Rector and one of the book’s co-editors, delivered a UNU Press Interactive Seminar.

    In a review of the book, Ali Kazancigil, political scientist and former UNESCO Assistant Director for Social and Human Sciences, observes:

    “The lack of public regulation of globalization through effective global governance, the decreasing capacities of sovereign states, and growing inequalities and poverty, are all factors that constitute major causes of the worrisome growth of the violent and criminal side of globalization…. The book analyzes in a brilliant manner such connections between legal and illegal globalization, and also studies large-scale violent activities, such as Islamist terrorism and organized criminal networks.” In a year that saw the Arab Spring uprisings, unprecedented riots in the United Kingdom, recurring fears over global debt and the on-going pressure to reach global consensus on responses to climate change talks, The Dark Side of Globalization delivers a particularly timely message.

    Kazancigil says the book “raise[s] a very important point for making progress towards an adequate and effective global governance: the need is greater than ever for civil society to shine the search-light of critical scrutiny on the dark side of globalization precisely in order to ensure that the good that globalization does triumphs and its deleterious effects are mitigated… This issue is much too serious a matter to be left under the monopoly of politicians and diplomats.”

    #2 & #3: From diasporas to debates on a sustainable future

    Coming in second place on the UNU Press 2011 best-seller list, Realizing the Development Potential of Diasporas explores how the growing population of expatriates from the developing world can be effectively leveraged to promote development in their homelands. Broad-ranging examples and case studies focus on experiences of specific diaspora groups, such as Citibank’s role providing remittances to the “underbanked” and Kenyan diaspora entrepreneurs.

    Number 3 on the year’s best-seller list, Designing our Future: Local Perspectives on Bioproduction, Ecosystems and Humanity examines prospects for creating an “ideal” society, in which humans and nature coexist harmoniously. It looks at how urban societies can achieve local or regional independence in the face of pressures toward centralization and globalization.

    The title is part of the UNU Press series on Sustainability Science, launched at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo in November. As UNU Vice Rector Kazuhiko Takeuchi [who co-edited one title in the series — Sustainability Science: A Multidisciplinary Approach (number 7 on the year’s best seller list)] observed during the launch, the series makes an important contribution to the emerging field of sustainability science. “In order to build sustainability science on a global level, a global meta-network is required,” he explained.

    #4 & #5: UNU Press authors on the global stage

    Authors of UNU Press best-selling books were active throughout 2011 in communicating the outcomes of their research to a global audience and participating in international public debate.

    Number 4 on the 2011 best-seller list, Fixing Haiti: MINUSTAH and Beyond, continues to receive publicity around the world. The book examines the challenges faced by Haiti, often dubbed “the poorest country in the Western hemisphere”, in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Fixing Haiti was launched in October, jointly in Washington and Ottawa. The Washington event was co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In Ottawa, co-editor of the book, Jorge Heine, participated in a high-level seminar with Michaëlle Jean, Special Envoy to UNESCO for Haiti.

    On a similar note, Walter Dorn, author of the recently published Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations, number 5 on the UNU Press 2011 best-seller list, undertook an extensive book tour in his native Canada. Drawing on issues raised in Keeping Watch, Dr. Dorn participated in a formal debate on whether Canada should refocus its efforts in UN Peacekeeping.

     Still space on your reading list?

    If you still have space on your reading list, rounding out the top 10 of the UNU Press 2011 best-seller list are: Climate Change and Global Sustainability: A Holistic Approach (#6), Blood and Borders: The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of the Kin-State (#8), Cross Border Governance in Asia: Regional Issues and Mechanisms (#9) and Civil Society, Conflicts and the Politicization of Human Rights (#10).

    The 2012 UNU Press catalogue offers a preview of the next round of titles that will follow in the new year. The 2012 catalogue includes a spectrum of works exploring salient international issues such as defying and escaping victimhood, the nature of US power and the Responsibility to Protect, transitional justice in Latin America and Eastern Europe, accountable governance in Africa and many other pressing global challenges.

    Looking for stocking-stuffers?

    For readers in the Tokyo area who are still looking for holiday “stocking fillers”, don’t forget to check out the range of UN merchandise available both through the UNU Bookstore (on the second floor of the UNU Headquarters Building) and at the weekly Farmer’s Market @UNU. Popular items include commemorative UN lapel pins, UN pens, ID card lanyards, branded stationery and more. These souvenirs offer a unique gift that cannot be obtained anywhere else in Japan.

    Tell us about your favourite UNU Press book

    Did you read a UNU Press book in 2011? Leave a comment in the Disqus field below telling us what you liked (or didn′t like) about the book. The best entry will receive a gift from the UNU Bookstore.